Ikari Warriors III / The Rescue – Blue and Red Co-op at One of Its Best


SNK logo 

Developer: SNK

Publisher: SNK America Corp.

Release date: 1989

Players: Up to 2 (Co-op mode)

Difficulty: 2/5 (Endless Continues)

Gameplay: 4/5

Sounds/Music: 4/5

Graphics: 4/5                                   

——————————————————————————————– ———————————————————–

I know that it’d be strange that I’d be jumping the gun (no pun intended) and start writing about ‘Ikari Warriors III’ ahead of its 2 earlier Ikari installments in the series. I wouldn’t mind saying this – but after trying out both ‘Ikari I’ and ‘Ikari II’, you can safely skip these 2 and go ahead with this one.

‘Ikari I’ had some abysmal graphics even for its time and its annoying music and super difficult gameplay means that I won’t stand it for too long. ‘Ikari II’ had some promise but the same nagging 8-bit tunes were there and the visuals were some of the worst yet on a Nintendo Famicom.

I’d opt for ‘Ikari III’ any day ahead of even most 2-player co-op games for the NES/Famicom and here are the reasons why.

intro eye



‘Ikari Warriors III’ or simply ‘Ikari III: The Rescue’ concerns two warriors clad in the familiar red and blue outfits so closely affiliated with 2-player co-op.There was an arcade version released and this game was ported to the NES/Famicom not long after. Needless to say, the NES version is a classic hit as well.

As you’ll learn – the heroes whom you’d be controlling in the game are called Paul and Vince. (They do keep it short and sweet those days) Paul wears blue as his favoured kit whereas Vince fights in red trousers.

These guys are damn macho that they kind of figured out that fighting topless against heavily-armed enemies is the way to rescue the President’s daughter. That includes coming up against enemy machetes; grenades; tank shells and more. Whatever the reason, you can see their super fair and smooth skin with fighting skills to match.


==Background story==

(credits to Wilson Lau and condensed from the original NES manual)

It is the end of the 20th century. A worldwide economic recession wreaks havoc with the nation and the planet. The impending threat of anarchy has given rise to a secret vice organization called ‘Crime Ghost.’ Dangerously poised to take over the world with its diabolic strategy, ‘Crime Ghost’ has infiltrated every country simultaneously. There is one President who has initiated a plan to wipe out the association, but now his home has been attacked and his daughter Elise abducted. A letter has arrived demanding that he resign his powerful position within a number of days, or else his beautiful Elise will be executed in a most unpleasant manner. The letter is signed ‘Faust’, the notorious mastermind of Crime Ghost. The president knows to whom he must turn. The President has summoned two men known as Paul and Vince, the incredible Ikari Warriors. Now, YOU become Paul and Vince. You must go to the enemy hideout, rescue the lovely Elise, fight Crime Ghost, and destroy them all. To do this, you will use your undersea scuba tactics; your guerilla fighting power with machine guns and grenades; and your own brute strength, together with your superior Martial Arts skills, performing kicks, round-house kicks, jump kicks, punches, and more. Ikari Warriors, save the world from chaos! Now!

intro story


==Gameplay controls==

Like the famous ‘Double Dragon’ series, the jump button can only be activated by pressing both the A and B buttons simultaneously. Put this down to the lack of the extra 3rd button as can be found in the superb Sega Megadrive gamepad – the A button executes a sort of roundhouse kick which you can also use to execute a ‘throw enemy’ move whilst either player are in water. The B button is the one you should be using most of the time as it’s the punch button. When you pick up the Blue ‘M’ icon onscreen, you can fire a machine gun whereas if you picked up the red ‘M’ icon, you can toss a grenade. (More on this later)

You can whack the stuffing out of most enemies with the punch button alone although the jumpkick (A+B) is the one you should be using more than most as it can be devastating to scores of enemies and you can jump your way out of trouble with this move.

‘Ikari III’ controls are responsive and fairly executable. The roundhouse kick alone is not that advisable as it can be a poor choice in combat although it can be quite stylish to dish out some punishment when the collision detection acknowledges it. The roundhouse kick works pretty well if coupled with the D-pad in the general area of the target but I can’t confirm this. It worked for me though. Best of all, the roundhouse kick can inflict damage on multiple enemies caught within your vicinity.

Oh, yeah. The collision detection in the game is quite funny. I’d say funny as there are times when you’d expect to hit something in a crowd but you may come away fanning the wind with your legs. Ditto for the grenade toss as it may appear to hit someone but you probably had just performed a small explosions show. That’s what makes the roundhouse kick even more rare to engage with.


==Gameplay Objectives==

Think ‘Contra’ and you’d get the idea. Go into area (the game is divided into Act(s)), find enemies, defeat them, move on to next area and do the same until you meet Act boss. Victory would grant you passport to the next Act. Rinse and repeat until you meet Faust himself.


The screen shows the life of either Ikari Warrior. Clearly, when the life meter goes empty, the player loses a life credit. When you obtain a machinegun, you’d get a bullet indicator.

Some boss battles (Acts I and V) grants you extended and limitless use of the machinegun instead of the measly 10 bullet restriction in normal gameplay.

=Getting extra lives=

For each 30000 points you acquire during your missions, you’d be given an extra life. Act III has 2 extra lives icons for the taking. Losing all the lives would not end the mission – this is one game where you can continue over and over again until you win the Act. Best of all, you can even continue where you left off after the previous life drain. Of course, if you’re playing for top scores, you’d be advised to play to the best of your ability as all scores are reset after all lives credits have been exhausted. You decide if it’s a gift or a curse. Remember that if you collect any collectible items such as the heart icons or diamonds, you’ll be awarded 1000 points which can be most helpful in getting the extra lives.


==Gameplay Enemies== (some characters names are based on appearance)

1. Normal green grunts – They are everywhere on the map! They can be the regular melee fighters armed with only their fists and jumpkicks or they can wield machineguns; are equipped with unlimited grenades; carrying an explosive barrel; or simply tossing you around the game area. Consider them as a threat in large numbers and you should never get caught in a ring of these fighters as they’d really enjoy taking turns to gangbang you.

2. Scuba Divers – Only present in Act IV, they can fire machineguns and if you allow them too close to you, can punch Paul or Vince to an instant death.

3. Dagger Soldier – First encountered in Act III, they’ve the agility to jump all around you and slash before making the same moves again. They aren’t too difficult to kill but can be quite dangerous if they corner you.

4. Bazooka Land Mine – Act II is where you can first see them; these bazooka-wielding dudes fire a salvo of land mines which can be prematurely detonated if either Paul or Vince had the misfortune to step on it or after a set timer goes off, releasing a blast. The Act VI mines had a more devastating flame residue which can spread. Take them out with a quick jumpkick.

5. Boomerang Guy – Act III introduction – Not too dangerous but never allow them to fling their boomerangs out. It’s quite hard to dodge them if that’s the case.

6. Blue-suit ninjas – Act II. They can hack and slash real fast; bearing in mind that both Paul and Vince are topless, so take this in mind. They can be killed rather easily with a jumpkick but it’s quite hard for the collision detection to register it.

7. Jetpack Soldier – Act III. They are dressed in blue and hover around in a jetpack. They are armed with machineguns and circle around you. Watch out for their death blast as they are kamikaze in a way.

8. Jason – Act V. This guy is clad in green and doesn’t appear to have much money to buy new clothes. He’ll look like a boss and can be quite difficult to take down. I’ll tell you a secret – in Act V, there are at least 2 machinegun icons before him. Get one, conserve the ammo (jumpkicking all the way) and when he appears swinging the chain spikes, just let loose a barrage of bullets to score an easy kill!

9. Suohmaru – Act II. He’s the annoying ninja in red suit who can teleport around the player. Watch out for his shuriken spread. The trick is to stand in the middle of the area and wait for him. He won’t attack with the shurikens if you get too close to him within the first 2 seconds or so. I’d try to kill him with the grenade found near him if possible but it’s not as easy.


==Mission briefing==


A reasonable mission to get started. You start off in a jungle area and proceed to the enemy’s base. Right from the start, you can choose to watch your tank get blown up by a salvo of missiles or you can just skip the short sequence and get cracking. The water area is where you should watch out. There is a grenade soldier there as well as a machine gun team. Get hit by either weapon and there goes one life credit. You can toss the enemy soldiers into the water for an easy kill but it doesn’t work most of the time.

Further ahead, there is barrel which you can hurl up in the air and instantly killing all enemies caught in the blast. Not long after, you can see some green grunts carrying similar barrels. Give them a quick jumpkick and they’ll leave you alone for the rest of the game. Do it slower and you’d be left watching either Paul or Vince marching up the screen in a temporary God mode.

Act I -2

Boss: A well-armoured tank. Its Achilles-heel is when it opens up its core, exposing a three-barrelled gun of which its ordnance would explode upon contact. Get up close to its side when it is in this mode and fire away with the machinegun. Until that moment, you can do nothing but just jump/move out of its way. It’s a difficult boss for beginners.

Act I -boss


The music for this mission is actually one of the most memorable in the world of NES games.

I’d assume that the player would be in the enemies barracks but I couldn’t be sure. Anyway, there’s no sign of foliage in this Act, so you should be within a built-up compound.

You can see a green grunt ballet squad kicking their way past you. Continue on and watch out for a machinegun team of two grunts at the bottom of the map.

Continue on past the grenadier, and soon you’ll see the 3 ninja clowns appearing. Jump out of the way as they appear. Take the spare grenade and kill Suohmaru after he takes form – but don’t take too long admiring him. The rest of the mission is standard fare – kill enemy grunts until you reach the boss.

Act II - 3

Boss: Todd Manor. I’d wait for him at the top of the screen until he sweeps past you. Punch him from above and he’ll fold in no time. If there’s some slack in your punch rhythm and he gets free, watch out for his mines. He’s not too tough but his explosive mines can cause some concern.

Act II - boss


This is a rather interesting mission. You’d meet the dagger squad head on. Moving up, you can encounter the green grunts which can pick you up and fling you to the ground like a cheap toy. A narrow passage way where there are stationary jumpkicking grunts and grenadiers on either side would pose some threat.

As you proceed, you’d see the jetpack soldiers. As I’ve said before- look out for their death blast as its explosives would consign you to their same fate. On the other hand, be more aware of their machine guns as they circle around you.

You’d come to another body of water. You can try to ‘fall off’ the right side of what looks like a dam but you won’t. Just in case, you’re curious. Another impressive ballet performance across the narrow path again; another water channel to cross; 2 extra life icons and the boomerang guys are there.

As you move on, you’d see the remains of an old fort. Loose rocks are in the horizon and some green grunts even have them! Get out of the way as they hurl them at you. One hit means instant death. You can also inflict similar pain on the grunts who opted to stay and fight.

When they are jumping, you can get near a rock and do the same as you did with the barrel.

You can stun them if their feet are on the ground but I doubt if the rocks would do damage from resonance.

When you enter the even narrower path, keep a sharp lookout for rolling rocks. Leap over them carefully. Take the left side of the path as there are some health icons there. Keep going on until you meet the twin brother Boss.

Act III - 4


They are named the Brothers Cheng. Erm, 2 ridiculously overweight and ancient warfare bosses to the fore! They are armed with a sword and a shield (I don’t think that the shield would deflect the damage you’d deal them but you be the judge). Make sure that you don’t get cornered as before, keep jumpkicking them and soon their fat would be rolling on the floor. Watch the cutscene where either Paul/Vince would be jumping into another water area topless but miraculously gotten hold of some scuba equipment in the next Act!

Act III - boss 2 brothers


Act IV - cutscene

This is the only ACT where you have little control over your advancing position as the screen is scrolling at all material times. You are given control of limitless ammo machinegun(s) but almost everything that moves in this mission can spell doom for you except the bubbles, weeds. (heh) Also, remember that your character can only fire upwards in this Act, so don’t bother turning around to fire on something which escaped your wrath.

Get as many diamonds as you can. You might easily score another extra life if you collect almost all of them – so it’s in you favour to gather as much of them as you possibly can. An important note here: Don’t let any enemies come in proximity to you as it’d be the punch to kill you. Dodge their machinegun fire as well. Try to avoid getting killed in this Act as the infamous forward march with God mode upon life restart may mean that you’d miss out on some precious diamonds. However, don’t get discouraged if you miss one or two of them as it’s really not that worth it to backtrack into a potentially dangerous circumstance for that 1000 points and could lose one life credit.

When you gain view of the two pits at either side of a underwater canyon, be doubly aware that these emit some detonating charges which sweep from side to side. Avoid these at all costs. You can see a sunken naval vessel along the way – a nice touch by the developers.

Act IV - 2


Aquarius. This deep-sea diver soldier is armed with harpoons and moves in a clockwise motion. Start shooting at him from the left of the screen and follow his motion to the right, dodging the harpoons as you do so. When he’s at the right, try to remain at the bottom most area and dodge his super left punch. As usual, if you’re a step too slow, it’d be curtains. The process is quite similar – just keep aiming at him while calculatively moving one step ahead of his motion. Don’t try some heroics involving staying in position and blasting away as he’s quite tough to kill.

Act IV - boss


A fairly easy mission. There are many more machinegun dudes here but you are also given control of at least 2 of these. Be sure to conserve some of these for Jason, the guy who looked like some creature from ‘Altered Beast’. You can’t miss him – he’s the guy with the twirling spiked mace. There may be a misconception where you think that saving up on the first gun would add up to the second. Sorry, no dice – you’d still get the same ten shots as you would with the 2nd gun icon. One bullet should do the trick.

You’d end up in a canyon with more dagger soldiers along the way. Consider them easier to kill when you’re jumpkicking them all the way.

As you advance a more or less similar routine with the same jokers, you’d be meeting up the boss soon. This is the hardest boss in the game.

Act V - 1


Armoured Train. I’ve no idea as to why would anyone invent such an absurd train, with a possibly 150mm cannon and some flying saucer-like grey objects from a secondary battery.

There’s even a carriage with nothing inside it!

To get past this boss, you’d have to watch out for the flying saucers and obviously, the gun. The cannon fires salvoes at you, to a maximum of 4 shots at one go if you’re in its firing sector. Its weak point is the turret itself. I can’t describe a sure way to beat this boss but you’d best to take cover and shoot at intervals. In short, know when to stop. Watch the rescue sequence.

Act V - boss  Act V - rescue


This is it – the airfield. This is the last mission and it’s not really that difficult from here on out.

You can see the little girl (Elise) here. For your info, Elise is invulnerable to all forms of attacks, so don’t feel duty-bound to protect an immortal. Just watch out for yourself!

She’d tag along to anyone still alive on the map at any given time but she’d follow Paul by default. I recall earlier games back in 1991 where Cousin E would say something weird like “Come here, little girl!” when playing the 2-player co-op mode. In the game, she’d move as if her ankles are stitched to her butt.

The following mission is fairly simple. The only notable potential difficulty is where the path forks to 2 routes. I’d pick the path on the right as there is a super mine there which would detonate into smaller flames which can kill Paul or Vince outright. There is a land mine soldier on the right but as in Act II, he’s no sweat.

As you proceed on, you can see more green grunts going about their routine and one last ballet squad at the entrance to the boss.

Act VI - 3 


Faust. His main attacks consist of punches, flying kicks and the body slam. He punches downwards on you – you can evade that, get directly above him and release a stream of punches during that time. He’s not that intimidating, and the Act V boss was so much harder.

Act VI - 4


Ending cutscene:

The plane takes off and lands at the airport of the country of the determined President. You can see the news feed mouthing some imaginary news and can see the President welcoming his Elise back. The hero is feted.

The ending shows the little girl running towards Paul. (I can’t remember if it’s any different in 2 players although I’ve finished the game as a kid in 2-players mode with my brother or Cousin E so many times already.) Notice Paul in the right-hand thumbs-up mode again in all visuals depicting him.

Act VI - victory 3 



a) I first played the game in early 1991 at Cousin E’s old house in Damansara Jaya. He was up against the Act I boss at that time.

Had another notable run during the Chinese New Year’s shopping 1991 on a Sunday (not exactly sure as to when) as a reward for good behaviour during the tiring hours picking for the necessary preparations.

Played the game a lot with brother in the run-up to the Chinese New Year festivities of 1991. Even up to the point of during the Reunion dinner with my late Grandpa. When I play the game on an emulator till this day, I’d still remember that afternoon and all the good memories. That’s what made ‘Ikari Warriors III’ quite special. Quite forgotten the game after that when other newer acquisitions like “Kage Fighter” and “TMNT 2” came into the picture; besides, it was just a loan from Cousin E.

b) Some not-so-good comments of the game:

i) Slowdowns during certain frames where there are too many enemies at once. Quite irritating when your response time is negated by this hardware fault.

ii) Repetitive depictions of Paul in the thumbs-up pose – It’s as if the developers then could not think up of any more ways to draw a compelling picture of him. There’s one at the introduction screen with him holding up some binoculars with the thumbs-up and another one during the newsreel except with the thumbs subtly hidden and then again at the ending screen where he was again seen with the thumbs up as Elise ran to his arms.

iii) Poor collision detection. Some you hit, some you don’t. If you get really close, and I do mean really close to any melee enemy, you can see that he can’t even hit you at all despite his kicks and punches or slashes. Incredible. Your roundhouse kick, if it works, is a good weapon but usually, it just hits air. Your punches, while quite old-fashioned are more useful weapons.

iv) Short campaign. One of those games which you can settle the issue within 45 minutes tops if you bothered with the enemies. A speedrun could take as short as a half-hour.

v) Ballet-trained soldiers. The sight of the ubiquitous green grunts doing a ballet move is somewhat strange. Of course, they are jumpkicking but they sure have the agility and stamina to execute all of that! Faust must be proud. “All right now, lift up the right leg…”

vi) Forward March as Life Starts Anew – when Paul or Vince loses one life credit, either one would march up to the front and back to the middle as if it’s some sort of martial arts ritual. They’d be in God mode, of course, but sometimes, this is annoying as you may be trying to dodge tank shells or flying saucers or some land mines for instance. You may even end up missing a chain of diamonds in the scrolling Act IV.


=2-player mode=

ikari iii 2 players mode

Another interesting aspect of the 2-players co-op mode is that both of you can actually punch/kick each other. As kids, this could lead to trouble as one player would be accidentally hit by the other. (Some bosses require fist tapdancing on their faces) The response would be instant retaliation for that ‘mistake’, or worse…

However, looking back – the 2-player mode, while opening up problems with being the aggrieved party, could lead to some interesting gameplay as you’d be agreeing not to mess with each other’s engagements. The fight would be understandably more restrained with less jumpkicks flying all round.

Then there could be some minor disagreements regarding the pickups of grenades or guns in the game. Obviously someone would love that more than most! Ok, even health pickups could become points of contention – even the diamonds scattered in Act IV!

All in all, my brother and I had little to no problems involving this aspect of the game as we apportion the pickups to the strict rule of demand. The player in deep shit would get the priority. Of course, it’d make little sense to allow a player who’s had the life meter near empty to carry the machine gun – the weapon would be a waste.



I gave the game a difficulty rating of 2/5 as there is a limitless number of continues.

Should the game be given the drastic measure of only 2 continues at the most, I’d bump up the figure to 5/5 as this is a properly unpredictable game to play with.


=Overall Gameplay=

Again, preventing it from scoring a perfect 5 is the collision detection aspect of the game.

Otherwise, it’s a great game on a quiet Sunday afternoon with the famous Nintendo console.


=Fun factor=

Easily one of the best games around. Get another friend – set down the arbitrary rules beforehand and sit down and play! You’d rely a lot on melee fights but are given just the right dose of weapons to help you.

The bosses are quite challenging but not enough to make you pound your controller in frustration.

The varied enemies are also entertaining enough and should be enough to sustain the interest long after the current session has ended.



The music wins it for the sounds department. While Act III and Act V shares the same tune, the others have upbeat tunes to keep the player in the mood for more controller bashing.

The sfx sound itself prevents it from scoring a perfect 5, however. I remembered that the punches and hits sounded like someone just punched a plastic bag. The machinegun sounds ok but quite improbable. The explosions, to note, are actually quite good and sounded convincing for its day. Otherwise, it’s a decent job.



This is an NES classic. It may be a bit short and quite fast to finish but it’s one of the best run and gun games out there. There are unlimited continues for the casual gamer and it would be a fantastic game to take it out for a run on the console or on an emulator.

Act VI - victory the end


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1 Response to Ikari Warriors III / The Rescue – Blue and Red Co-op at One of Its Best

  1. Artur says:

    This is my first post with pictures using the Windows Live Writer. Previously, Live Spaces would only allow pictures to be added at the end of the post with little freedom over the positioning of the pictures to describe the stuff I’d like to talk about – so the Live Writer utility is a useful tool. (Blogger already has this feature but Windows Live Spaces is my choice as there is a generous limit of 500 pictures per month as opposed to Blogger’s pre-determined overall limit.Unfortunately, posting with pictures with the Live Writer doesn’t permit much upload of new pics and posts with overloaded pictures would not even get uploaded at all. I think that an average of 10 – 15 pictures per post would be severely taxing this limit but I’d be subscribing to this format in the future.

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